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Global Efforts Intensify to Combat Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated Fishing

The Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) has agreed to ramp up efforts to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Shivam Dwivedi
Global Efforts Intensify to Combat Illegal, Unreported &Unregulated Fishing (Photo Source: Reuters, Representative Image)
Global Efforts Intensify to Combat Illegal, Unreported &Unregulated Fishing (Photo Source: Reuters, Representative Image)

This will be achieved by extending vessel inspections, exchanging global information, and improving the capacity of developing states. The event, which took place in Bali from May 8 to 12, was hosted by the Indonesian government.

The PSMA is the first binding international agreement designed to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by stopping foreign vessels engaging in it, from using ports, landing their catches, even denying them entry. It is a key instrument to block fish products derived from IUU fishing from entering international markets.

The Parties, which included the European Union as one Party on behalf of its Member States, pledged further support to the Global Capacity Development Programme, which has so far supported more than 50 developing States in improving their capacity to combat IUU fishing.

Parties to the PSMA also agreed to take the Global Information Exchange System (GIES), a digital system developed by the FAO at the request of the Parties, from its current pilot phase to a fully operational system by the end of this year. GIES is a global system that shares vital information including inspection reports and actions taken on foreign fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing.

Matthew Camilleri, senior fishery officer and head of the Fisheries Global and Regional Processes Team in FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, said that “we need streamlined information exchange and digitalisation for the PSMA to effectively combat IUU fishing”.

The Parties also endorsed a strategy to increase adherence to the PSMA. The PSMA has the highest rate of adherence of all international fisheries instruments, with 75 Parties adhering to it, representing 59 percent of port States globally. Timor-Leste became the latest Party to the agreement at the end of last month.

According to Manuel Barange, the Director of FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, FAO is collaborating with countries and regional fisheries management organizations to tackle IUU fishing.

This involves evaluating national legislation and finding ways to enhance institutional capacity and monitoring and surveillance systems, to enable effective implementation of the PSMA and other international instruments aimed at promoting sustainable fisheries. Given that one in three fish stocks is currently overfished, and with increasing demand for aquatic foods, ensuring that all stocks are managed sustainably is of critical importance.

The PSMA entered into force in June 2016, and the Meeting of the Parties is convened biennially to discuss matters related to the implementation of the Agreement. The Fourth Meeting of the Parties received financial support from the Government of Norway.

By taking these steps, the Parties to the PSMA are improving their ability to detect and prevent IUU fishing, which will help to safeguard the world’s fish stocks and ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry.

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